Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahaband stayed there. The king of Jericho was told, “Look, some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.” So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: “Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.” But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from. At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, they left. I don’t know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them.” (But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof.) So the men set out in pursuit of the spies on the road that leads to the fords of the Jordan, and as soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut. Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the Lorddried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failedbecause of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below. “Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them—and that you will save us from death.” “Our lives for your lives!” the men assured her. “If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the Lord gives us the land.” So she let them down by a rope through the window, for the house she lived in was part of the city wall. She said to them, “Go to the hills so the pursuers will not find you. Hide yourselves there three days until they return, and then go on your way.” Now the men had said to her, “This oath you made us swear will not be binding on us unless, when we enter the land, you have tied this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you have brought your father and mother, your brothers and all your family into your house. If any of them go outside your house into the street, their blood will be on their own heads; we will not be responsible. As for those who are in the house with you, their blood will be on our head if a hand is laid on them. But if you tell what we are doing, we will be released from the oath you made us swear.” “Agreed,” she replied. “Let it be as you say.” So she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window. (Joshua 2: 1-21)
Rahab, the Bible says, has a harlot, a woman who sold her body for money. She was also an innkeeper. Since Rahab was in a position to lodge guests, it was natural for Joshua's spies to go to her place. Jericho was a small town, and Rahab's inn was probably the only place to sleep.
Rahab became aware of the true identity of her guests, that they were Israelites and hid them on her roof under stacks of flax. Rahab's house was situated higher than any other house, so no curious eyes could watch what went on there.
Rahab misled the king's messengers. While they searched the surrounding countryside carefully, she talked with the hidden spies. She told them that she was aware that God had given them the land and that the inhabitants of her land were fearful of them because of the miracles of the parting of the Red Sea. She was well aware of what God had done for His people. She told them that the men had lost their courage to face the Israelites because of their God.
She proved to be a wise woman who acted in the light of proper information. She used discretion in talking about them and shrewdness in hiding them. She felt that one good turn deserved another, "Since I have saved your lives, will you in turn save mine and that of my relatives?" Yet, she naturally expressed concern for herself while at the same time expressing faith in the God of Israel. She believed that she fought for His people and that He was going to give them this land. She also believed that because of this God's power, her people didn't have the slightest chance of keeping the Israelites outside the city walls. She acted upon her faith.
She asked for a sign that they would save her when their armies returned to take the city. They told her to put a scarlet cord on her window and no one would be harmed in her household. Rahad bound the red ribbon on her window.
A week later the miracle of the Red Sea repeated itself. Again deep water was parted. The Israelites walked with dry feet through the river Jordan, which at the time was high above its banks. A few days later Rahab saw a throng of Israelites walking around the city in silent procession. The city gates were closed. No Jew could come in; no Canaanite could get out. This continued for six days.
On the seventh day, the Israelites again walked silently around and around the city. Their faces were solemn. The tension on both sides of the wall was becoming unbearable. Inside, the people viewed the future with eyes full of horror and fear - except in one house. In Rahab's home there was hope and trust. She had made a covenant with the people of God and, therefore, with God Himself.
Then seven priests with seven trumpets and rams' horns encompassed the city blowing their horns, and the people, on Joshua's command, began to shout. The earth then began to tremble. Walls which had safeguarded the city for years crumbled and fell apart, leaving the city unprotected.
Faith had caused the walls to fall. And that very same faith caused a part of the wall to remain erect - the wall where Rahab's house stood.
Both parties had fulfilled their part of the agreement. Rahab had done her part and God had rewarded her faith. Her faith in the victory of the God of Israel was so strong that she was able to convince her relatives to come and stay with her. Every one of them was spared.
Rahab's life portrait was marred because of her dishonoring stain of immorality. Yet it was brightened with an example of glistening faith - her faith was strong enough for her to act. Inner faith can only be recognized by outward deeds.
Rahab, a heroine of faith? Yes. For God there are no impossible cases. He justifies the ungodly.
Rahab's story didn't end there. The conquest of Jericho only marked the beginning, for she had now found God. Her life began to blossom. There was no further longing for her former occupation; instead, she became an honorable housewife. She, a heathen woman, lived among the Jewish people, married the Israelite Salmon, and had a child. If we were to evaluate her effectiveness as a mother by her sympathetic and wise son, Boaz, the husband of Ruth, then she did very well indeed, for Ruth becomes the great-grandmother of King David. Rahab became a mother in the lineage of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, a privilege every Jewish woman would envy.
Source: Her Name Is Woman, by Gien Karssen